Planning a trip and trying to decide where to go, what to do, and which tour company to choose? A couple of months ago, I wrote an article about making the decision to “Hop on the Bus” and join a group bus tour. Now let’s discuss what makes one company different from another and how to choose the tour that will work best for you.
Let’s face it - there is a pre-conceived notion about what it means to go on a bus tour. Those who haven’t been on a tour (or have been on a bad one) envision being dragged from one attraction to another in a herded mass, trapped on a bus with a bunch of grumpy people, and being kept on a strict time schedule with limited, if any, free time each day. Terrapin Tours is doing everything possible to change how bus tours are perceived and how they operate.
IT’S A NEW AGE! What makes our tours different? We realize that today’s seniors are different than past generations and understanding that difference is helping Terrapin Tours cater to the new group traveler. Today’s seniors are more active, more adventurous, and are savvier when it comes to travel. We know that traveling is a great way to stay active and to continue learning later in life – there are so many benefits of traveling and there is no reason to stop just because you no longer drive or want to travel on your own. Going on a group tour is a great solution, but that shouldn’t mean being treated like you can’t spend an hour on your own or that you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
LESS HO-HUM, MORE FUN! At Terrapin Tours, we like to have fun and we are on a mission to demolish the pre-conceived notion of the dreaded bus tour. From years of traveling on tours as a passenger and leading my own tours, I have learned that if everyone is on the same mission to have fun on a tour nothing is going to stop them. You can’t control the weather and you can’t control traffic - and sometimes even the best plans don’t pan out as expected – which means that things don’t always go as planned. As the saying goes “If life hands you lemons, make lemonade”… well, we feel like having the right attitude equates to bringing a cup of sugar to sweeten up the lemonade! After all, life is an adventure so let’s have fun while we are on the journey.
IT’S YOUR VACATION! Everyone has different tastes -some travelers would prefer to enjoy a leisurely lunch at a sidewalk café, while others would like to spend the afternoon in a museum or gallery, and of course, there are those that would spend the time shopping! Many tour companies don’t allow people the choice, and to be honest, some people don’t want choices. If you want to be with your tour director for every meal and literally for every waking hour during the day, Terrapin Tours may not be the right tour for you and I understand that. But, if you like to be given information and options each day and want to have a couple of hours on your own to shop, visit a museum or enjoy a coffee at a local café, then Terrapin Tours is a perfect match.
STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES… Another thing to look at when choosing a tour is the pace of the trip. Terrapin Tours is taking a “Stop and Smell the Roses” approach to travel. We feel that it is important to take time at the destinations that we visit rather than simply hopping off the bus, checking off the attraction on a list, and hopping back on to head off to our next destination. I have learned that people would prefer to see less, but experience more. Taking a little more time at each destination and also giving people some free time each day to do what they please has been the key to Terrapin’s success. WHAT’S THE REAL COST? I will be the first to admit that Terrapin Tours isn’t always the “cheapest” and that is ok – we aren’t on a mission to sell the least expensive product. We are on a mission to provide the best possible product at a fair price. There are many factors to take into consideration including the difference between cost and value. Looking at the price isn’t always a clear picture of the cost of a trip – how many meals are included? Are all of the activities and attractions admissions included or will you be digging into your pocket every time you hop off the bus? Take a close look at what is included in the price of the tour - get a better idea of how many meals and activities you will be paying for out of pocket – at the end of the day, a lower price on the brochure doesn’t always mean lower cost to you.
There are a few things that I won’t compromise when creating a tour just to get the lowest price. First and foremost, I won’t hire a bus company that isn’t top of the line just to save a few bucks. Safety and comfort are the most important factors for Terrapin Tours. That also means the quality and location of the hotels that we use are a major consideration. When booking a tour, take a look at the hotels that are used - are they hotels that you would choose to stay at on your own? If given the choice, would you spend a little more to get a better product or location? I think so, and if we are traveling hundreds or thousands of miles to visit a special destination we will definitely choose a landmark hotel (for instance the Grand Hotel on Mackinaw Island, or the Opryland Hotel in Nashville) even if it means that the tour will be a little higher price. On the other hand, I won’t choose hotels that are in undesirable locations or have questionable rooms, cleanliness or amenities just to lower the price. Again, safety and comfort are top priorities.
At the end of the day, traveling is a very personal experience. Traveling with a group has always been a great option for me – I love the camaraderie that comes with traveling with a group of strangers that become friends; I love sharing the experiences along the way with fellow travelers; and I love sitting down at the end of the day and sharing stories of our adventures. My passion for group travel is helping me create a new kind of travel - a group tour where after you take that “first step” and get on the bus, you are in for a fun-filled adventure, not some stuffy old bus tour. So hop on the bus with Terrapin Tours….you won’t regret it!
This spring we offered an array of tours from New Hampshire to cure the post-winter blahs! In April we ventured to New York City and then went on an 11-day tour to Asheville, Nashville & Louisville. Next, we were off to the Ottawa Tulip Festival and then to the Charlevoix Region of Quebec. If you weren’t able to join us on those spring tours, look ahead to this summer and mark your calendars for upcoming trips this summer and fall.
Kelly Cooke is the Owner of Terrapin Tours, loves traveling and has almost 20 years experience in the travel industry. You can learn more about Terrapin Tours and the exciting places we will be visiting in 2014 on our website www.TerrapinTours.com or by calling 603-348-7141